Mediacom audit: Media Federation says there are no wider industry problems and no need for tighter regulation



The boss of the Media Federation says the media agency trade body has no plans to issue its members with a tightened code of behaviour in the wake of Mediacom’s revelations that some clients were misled on campaign performance.

“We are not a regulator,” Sophie Madden, CEO of the MFA told Mumbrella. “This is a highly competitive industry, we are not a regulator but we take the code seriously and we believe our members take them seriously.”

The MFA’s code of behaviour – shown in full below – sticks to general principles such as “do the right thing”.

Madden said that the MFA has no role to play in addressing the issue of value banks, where agencies accumulate bonus airtime from media owners based on volume of business put their way. She said: “This is a competitive industry but we are not privy to how each of members manage their commercial operations but we can’t regulate it, nor is it appropriate to.”    

Asked if the MFA thought that problems identified at Mediacom could be present at other agencies, Madden replied: “No we don’t. We believe our members are committed to our values and principles outlined in the code of practice.

“In terms of transparency being an issue for the industry we have sent out today of codes of behaviour that members sign up for. There is the code that is what everyone signs up for when they join the MFA.

“What is important for the industry is that we abide by honesty and trust. Individual contracts with agencies is not something we can comment on.”

Mediacom, and its fellow GroupM agencies are all long term members of the MFA.

Asked whether the issue could raise questions of client trust in media agencies as a whole, Madden claimed: “There is a danger but clients who work with MFA members can be assured that they industry professionals who are providing expert services and and acting in their best interests as per the code of behaviour.

“There are going to be learnings that come out of the review and that will serve to strengthen the industry in future.”

Nic Christensen 

In depth:

The full MFA statement:

The Media Federation of Australia (MFA) today welcomed the release of findings by independent auditors Ernst and Young into aspects of Media Communication Agency Mediacom’s TV campaign performance reporting and accounting processes.

The review was commissioned by Group M after certain practices regarding the reporting of post campaign results on some client accounts within its Mediacom business were brought to its attention.

MFA CEO Sophie Madden said we applaud Group M for taking the necessary steps to address the issues identified at Mediacom, in order to reflect the MFA codes of behaviour.

“Our Code of [Behaviour] requires our members to act professionally, honestly and to always provide clients with advice that serves their best interests,” Ms Madden said. “The transparency of the independent review process initiated by Group M was fully supported by the industry.

“The reputation and integrity of the media buying industry as a whole is shaped by individual actions of all of our member businesses, regardless of size or market share. “Group M took the responsible and necessary approach of engaging external audit specialists to examine client account issues that were brought to its attention. “

A copy of the MFA Code of Behaviour are attached:


Play fair. Respect your competitors; compete on merit and encourage keen and vigorous competition. Be fair; don’t poach staff with less than 12 months’ experience. Don’t discredit others.

Value your people. Place a high value on recruiting, developing and retaining talent. Invest in their continued learning. Leave room for family, friends and fun.

Do the right thing. Don’t break or bend the law. Don’t go looking for loopholes. Follow your good conscience and demonstrate self-regulation. Comply with all IP rights laws.

Be transparent and trustworthy. Always act professionally. Give clients honest, unbiased advice that serves their best interests. Act impartially and independently in the provision of services. Conduct business in a socially responsible manner.

Be honest. Stand up for what you believe is right, and encourage others to do the same.

Create an open and trusting environment with colleagues, clients and suppliers. Keep your word. Respect confidentiality.

Uphold and build our reputation. Respect the values and standing of the MFA and its members. Do not disparage other MFA members.


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